# Serving advantage of tall players

Looking at the top 5 fastest recorded serves in tennis, it's noticeable that players who have hit these serves are relatively tall players.

1. Sam Groth (263.4km/h) is 6'3"
2. Albano Olivetti (257.5km/h) is 6'8"
3. John Isner (253.7km/h) is 6'10"
4. Ivo Karlovic (251km/h) is 6'11"
5. Jerzy Janowicz (251km/h) is 6'8"

Source

If we extend the list to the top 10, the shortest player among them would be Roscoe Tanner, who stands 6'0".

Is there any definite advantage that tall players have when it comes to serving the ball?

Shortly: YES!

A taller athlete is able to perform a service more like a "smash" than a shorter athlete because of the higher point of impact.

Above you can find a relation between player height and service speed coming from this interesting study.

• Interesting graph, but are the points on the graph refer to the average speeds for players of that height? Or does it refer to the fastest recorded speed for that certain height? Sep 8 '16 at 9:02
• Each dot is an individual male player's fastest recorded serve (km/h) plotted by that player's height (m). It says nothing about other players at any given height nor the height of players who have achieved a given speed, except what can be inter-/extrapolated from the trend line.
– Nij
Oct 29 '16 at 11:46

It seems to me a matter of simple trigonometry. The tennis ball must land in a certain area after clearing the net. The higher the point of impact of racket and ball the larger the safety margin for a successful serve. That allows players to concentrate more on power and less on accuracy. The greater angle at impact also enhances power and speed. So, the answer seems to me to be there is a definite advantage of being tall that is linked to both psychology (confidence and risk taking), physics, and trigonometry.

• The question already raises the theoretical possibility, and you only provide ad hoc justification (which is weak on most points too), when a "definite advantage" is what it requests. That means evidence such as provided in Ale's answer from real service of real players.
– Nij
Aug 30 '17 at 19:43